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Construction On Campus - Projects At UWF In Varying Stages

Bob Barrett

A section of the University of West Florida campus has looked and sounded like a logging operation over the past couple of weeks.

About 270 trees have been taken down near the university's fitness and aquatic centers to make way for construction of the UWF football practice field and facility. It appears some long talked-about construction projects at the University of West Florida are finally seeing the light of day.

Dr. Jim Barnett, Associate Vice President for Facilities Development and Operations at UWF, as well as the Interim CEO of the university’s Business Enterprise Incorporated says the trees are being taken down to make way for the beginning of the University Park development. Barnett says this is the "Phase 1-A" part of the development, which will include the construction of a field and facility to house the football program and players, will be ready to be occupied "by January 15, 2016. Coach (Pete) Shinnick tells me  it's really got to get done by that date because of recruiting and signing day and so forth".

The UWF Football program will play its games downtown at Bayfront Stadium for the first few years. Barnett says this synthetic turf practice field and facility that will, one day, grow into the game day field once the stadium is built up around it.

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
Construction continues on Argonaut Village at the N. Davis Hwy entrance to UWF. Starbucks is set to open at the site on June 9, 2015.

In the more immediate future, there’s going on at UWF than just cutting down trees for a football facility. If you enter the university from North Davis Highway, you’ve seen the construction of Argonaut Village…a setting with multiple retail outlets that is just about ready to open. Dr. Barnett says the first store to be ready on the site will be Starbucks, which is set to open on June 9. There will also be a Subway restaurant, a Boneheads Grill, a nail salon and a Follett operated spirit shop for UWF clothing.

The original plan for Argonaut Village was much larger but had to be downsized due to lack of funding and investors. Dr. Barnett says there are still plans for adding a hotel and conference center the future of the site. One thing Barnett pointed out is they did not want to center to look like just another strip mall. Walking around the construction site he pointed out the features that the buildings are not built in a straight line, making Argonaut Village unique.

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
The architecture at Argonaut Village has some UWF touches.

There are plaza areas for tables looking out over the nearby wetlands. He hopes some day that a bridge will be built over that wetland to get to the additional parking on the other side...and perhaps one day that hotel complex.

That’s all in the future. For now, the University of West Florida is looking forward to the grand opening of its first Argonaut Village facility, Starbucks, on June 9th.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.